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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2005

Fish and Wildlife board member to resign after a violation

Published: Friday, October 21, 2005
By Matt Crawford
Free Press Staff Writer

Susan Winter said she made "an honest mistake" on Oct. 5.

The mistake Winter made was shooting a Canada goose in a Grand Isle County cornfield. The problem is, Canada goose season wasn't open Oct. 5, and Winter was charged with taking a goose in a closed season by Vermont game warden Justin Stedman.

Winter, of Colchester, is the Chittenden County representative on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board, the 14-member oversight committee that works with the Fish and Wildlife Department to create hunting and fishing regulations. Winter said Thursday she will resign over the mistake.

Winter said Thursday she didn't know Canada goose season was closed Oct. 5, the opening day of Vermont's duck season. She hunted ducks in the early morning, but was frustrated by the hunting conditions. She decided to leave the duck marsh to visit friends in Grand Isle County.

On her way, she saw a flock of Canada geese in a cornfield and decided to sneak to within shotgun range. Snow goose season was open, but the season for migrating Canada geese doesn't open until Oct. 22.

"To be honest," said Winter, a lifelong hunter, "there is no excuse for stupidity, for not double-checking the rules."

Winter is a well-known wildlife artist. She estimates she has donated thousands of dollars' worth of artwork to wildlife conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited and Becoming an Outdoors Woman programs.

She has done work for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and has designed stamps for other state's wildlife agencies.

"I've tried so hard to do things the right way," Winter said.

Stedman, who pulled Winter's vehicle over, also wrote her a ticket for using a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells. If convicted of both charges, Winter could lose her hunting and fishing privileges for a year and face a $274 fine.

Col. Robert Rooks, chief game warden for the state, confirmed that Winter had been charged and referred specific questions about the case to Grand Isle County State's Attorney David Miller.

Board Chairman J. Rob Borowske had not received Winter's resignation Thursday, but said those are usually communicated first to the Governor's Office.

"I have to resign," Winter said. "I've cried for days and days over this. I'm just so frustrated. I just want it all to be done with and get this over with."

She was appointed to her position Aug. 9, 2004, by Gov. Jim Douglas. Her term is set to expire Feb. 28, 2008.

Douglas' office could not be reached for comment.

Winter will be the second Fish and Wildlife board member to resign in two years after being caught violating hunting regulations.

Kermit Spaulding stepped down in December 2003 after he was he issued a ticket for shooting from a motor vehicle at a deer decoy set up in a Stowe field.

"I feel so bad," Winter said. "I didn't shoot from a truck; I didn't knowingly do anything that was illegal. This is embarrassing."

Contact Matt Crawford at 651-4852 or mcrawfor@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com 

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